Diamonds or Dust?


It’s funny… I always worry the night before that I am not going to have anything to say or write about in my blog for the following day. I say to myself… ‘it’s ok – you can just write a line along the lines of… ‘nothing out of the ordinary day, nothing to share, nothing happening….’.. But that doesn’t seem to be my life!

This morning, just after 9am, I was headhunted by a new small consulting firm in London to go and interview to be a Partner to grow their business.


Just as I bravely, mentally cut the ties to my old life. Out of the blue. I am flattered. I am scared. I even get butterflies?!

Alarm bells ring! What is this? Is this a test? A flattering temptation or an obstacle to test my determination and decision to lead a new life? A life of peace and tranquility, mindfulness, health, present and presence in my boys’ life (3 of them… husband is always included in reference to ‘boys’)… my new slice of the bread in my career / life path sandwich.

I didn’t ask the universe for this? How did it manifest?! I haven’t updated my Linked-in or online CV in months…

All of this flashes across my mind in the split seconds that I listen to the lovely, complimentary lady on the end of the phone. In my head, I hear James rejoicing! How proud he would be … his wife back in the corporate game… the money! The accolades! But I see, I see clearly the weeks away from home for this is a job and company based in London – 200 miles away from my boys, the pressure, the stress, the unhealthy competition, brown-nosing, selling, the long days and nights, all the reasons why I am moving on.

So if this is a test, I passed it. With flying colours, I politely said that at this point, I couldn’t consider being away from home but thank you for the opportunity.

I ponder… my head tipping this way and that…as I drive to various drop offs… Pressure. An interesting word.

‘’A continual physical force exerted on or against an object by something in contact with it’’.


‘’The use of persuasion or intimidation to make someone do something’’

I think we often see the word ‘pressure’ as having negative connotations. Pressure can lead to stress… stress can lead to cracks and ultimate collapse. Pressure on a person or object. I know that pressure in my corporate life, lead to huge stress, manifesting in poor health, eczema, tiredness, to cracks in my marriage, family life and final collapse of my world as I knew it. Ashes… Dust….. to be swept under the carpet or float away in the wind of change.

Yet today, I put pressure on myself to be healthy, do some form of exercise every day – from light to intense, pilates to spin, dog walk to gym. I have put pressure on myself to finding 30 minutes each busy day to write a daily blog about my life in the sandwich years. I put pressure on myself to grow my health, wellness and wellbeing business, to coach others to success with whatever health or career goal. I put pressure on myself to write the best class plans for my volunteer mentoring, the best speech for when I speak as a guest speaker in schools in the north. And yet this pressure, I thrive under! I am alive! I am happy… I am calm and energetic at the same time. I am being asked to do more, be more… live more!

So pressure can be good… I am reminded of a well known quote ‘ Diamonds are but carbon, until they are put under pressure’.

Be be warned… for there is a fine line between the good and the bad. The choice between Diamonds or Dust?

My experience is that you can do what you think you love to do, generate a big bank balance, but if the pressure is coming from external forces, you can end up lacking wealth or even health.

Or you can dig deep, follow your dreams, find out what it is you want to do … and do it. Do it for free. Do it for the love of doing it. Do it part time until you can do lots of it…   I strongly believe that if you are doing what you love, no matter how much pressure you are under, you will always shine, sparkle, spread your joy. If the pressure comes from within, you will create diamonds.

Dreams do come true!


Today is the day that is going to lift me out of the haze of snot, the muffliness of blocked ears.

It felt a little bit like Christmas as I was so excited and awake well before my alarm.. Today was my first day in front of a class of 15 ten year old girls.

My childhood dream as a little girl was to be a teacher, a writer and painter and a Mummy.

At school I was incredibly creative – I was always top in Art exams, I wrote endless stories in note books and I made lace… (yes – lace with bobbins… !). I wanted to take Art and Latin and languages for my A levels but my teachers and parents persuaded me otherwise – I was very good at Maths too, so it was double Maths and double languages for me. I listened again and was influenced by my elders and took Business Management with French for a Degree and at the end of a 4 year course I still had no idea what I wanted to do… A dream of being a teacher, a painter and a writer long lost as my peers all signed up with big blue chip companies.

I fell in to Management Consultancy, quite by chance… but I suppose it was a happy chance as it appealed to both my creative side as well as my analytical side. I got to design systems, look at ‘architecture’ and became part of the technology revolution in retailing. It was a love, hate relationship! It paid fantastically, it was a brilliant challenge, it was time consuming, stressful and eventually took too much time away from my family.

So here I am … going back to realize my dreams!

I stood in front of my class of 15 ten year olds and shared my story proudly. I may not be a true teacher in academic or professional terms, but I can teach them about life, or my experiences of life:  Be clear on your dreams. Ask for help if you don’t know what it is you are looking for. If you find what you are doing doesn’t make you happy, be brave and have the courage to change. True success is doing what you love, because that is what will make you happy… and happiness is the key to success!

I may not be a true painter… but in my Health, Wellness and Wellbeing business, I paint the picture of how life can be like when you are healthy, happy, doing what you love, being your authentic self.

I may not be a true writer, haven’t written a novel… but I am getting there!

So I guess, that’s not bad … realizing all your dreams before you reach 40 because my last dream of being a Mummy is definitely fulfilled… I changed bed sheets 4 times last night, kissed little heads multiple times, trod on lego, picked up discarded clothes, read stories and awoke to my alarm clock of pattering feet as Tom races to dive on my bed with a big grin as he is always delighted to see a new day begin!

The Glass Ceiling and the Brick Wall

Allelujah! There are others out there that have never heard of the Sandwich Years! I shared this concept with some wonderful new friends I have made at the new school my son has started and they were as fascinated as I was…

I was with a group of highly talented, educated professional Mums… A lawyer, interior designer from London, fashion designer/marketer and academic all with glowing careers… all married to highly successful men – professor, consultant, director, etc.

So what do I mean by professional Mum’s… they are professionals both in their field and as a Mum. And here is the sandwich again… Can you be the whole sandwich – the professional and the Mum? Where does the wife bit come in? Friend? It is sounding now more like a club sandwich?

Can you be the club sandwich all at once? Can a woman have it all is the cliché question? I heard one clever answer ‘yes – but not all at the same time’.

And here is the dilemma – the discussion point over countless posh coffees and herbal teas. The brave pioneering women in history before us, fought for women to have the same rights to work, be successful, have a voice, a say on how we wish society to be… to stand alongside men in the church, in business as equals.

We are highly educated in physics, maths, languages, business and everything we need to be at the top of the corporate ladder. Told we can do anything, be anything and smash through the ‘glass ceiling’ that has been talked about and theorized in so many of the books I read at university.

We leave having children until later and later in to our 30’s and sometimes 40’s, focused on the top levels of leadership to prove we are the equals of men. We leave our children with nannies and after school clubs…. Glued to a blackberry, android or apple device ensuring we respond within a nanosecond to any crisis, text, email or joke… wafting away a small child desperate for our attention. We socialize and network, for we can’t feel like we can say we have children at home to kiss good night, husbands to nuture and cook for, for fear of missing out, missing out on that connection, that opportunity for a discussion with someone who could mean a promotion, a step up to that dizzy height where we will feel accomplished and prove our teachers/parents proud.

I am guilty of this.

Or I was.

It took a few wake up calls before I made a choice. A decision.

A wonderful friend, mentor and boss with cancer to make me realize that if that happened to me I would regret the time in the office rather than time with my boys. There are other triggers, still too painful to write about…

I am no 50’s housewife… but I made a decision to put my family first. Let my corporate career take a back seat. And so have these wonderful women I sip coffee with. We have all found new ways in which to feel a challenge, have a purpose, give value, fill our time so that we do have an identity (rather than Mrs ‘X’, wife to Mr ‘X’), so that we can still tip our hats at the women who gave us our ‘freedom from the kitchen sink’ rights. At the same time, provide a calm, safe, loving environment for both children and our men. Is this the new sense of accomplishment… ?

In the words of Oprah, ‘what I know for sure’, there is only one life for us all and it can be cut short by physical or mental illness… our children mature, age, grow up quickly… so quickly. We only have a few summers before our boys will no longer want to be seen with us! So the time I have here will be with the ones I love, the ones I cherish… not in a boardroom or a fancy restaurant… but being Mrs Taxi to and from school, swimming, football, rugby… being a wife that’s good, caring, attentive and interested…

But I will be more too, my 1970’s and 80’s programming is still in tact… Along with countless other successful women, I will find new ways to prove that I continue to be man’s equal, find new flexible ways to feel accomplished outside of corporate environments and outside of the home….

Are we a new band of women who will change the shape of society, improve on it once again… Are we the generation that will show the future generations how to have balance between creating harmony between earning a living and living a life? Is there such a thing or will we learn to be at peace living in a beautiful chaos of all the different threads of life?

Another thing I know for sure, is that women of today are lucky. Incredibly lucky to have the choice.  The choice to decide their future, their success, their happiness… to make their own club sandwich with whatever filling they want it in….

But I have never seen a sophisticated, elegant women put a big club sandwich in their mouth all at once..

PS…The brick wall….It seems that once someone goes in to the NHS mental health care scheme, they go behind one. Thinking of you Mumbo… Please know I keep ringing to ask about you…. But no one can give me answers.